Devils Open Regional Slipping by Stony Brook

On a night when the ASU softball team moved just one win away from the national title series, the Arizona State baseball team opened up regional play in similar fashion to how the softball team started their regional run. Just like the ladies did two weeks before, ASU got all that they could handle from Stony Brook, but held on to a 9-7 victory in front of 3,425 at Packard Stadium.

The Devils jumped out to an early 1-0 lead when a balk was called on Seawolves' starter Tom Koehler with the bases loaded in the first. Ryan Sontag led off with a walk, but was immediately erased by a double play off the bat of Jason Kipnis. Brett Wallace singled with two outs to re-start the rally and Ike Davis reached on an infield single. After a walk to Petey Paramore, Koehler was called for a balk that allowed Wallace to score to make it 1-0 Devils.

Stony Brook would have a two-out rally of their own to tie the game in the second against ASU starter Matt Newman. Stephen Marino and Michael Tansey singled with two outs to start the rally and Marino would score on a single to left by Keith Feir.

The Seawolves would take the lead off of Newman in the third. Newman hit Brian Witkowski to start the inning and Chad Marshall reached on a bunt single when nobody covered first base. Michael Stephan would then end Newman's day with a single to left that scored Witkowskin and made it 2-1 Stony Brook. Stephan Sauer took over on the mound and got Rob Dyer to hit into a double play for the first two outs, but Marshall scored on the play to make it 3-1.

Back-to-Back Pac-10 Player of the Year Brett Wallace tied things up at 3-3 in the third with a two-run home run almost to Karsten Golf Course in right field that scored Kipnis, who led off with a walk. Ike Davis walked following the home run and advanced to third on a single to left center by Petey Paramore. Mike Jones, getting a rare start in centerfield, dropped down a perfect squeeze bunt that scored Davis and gave ASU the lead back at 4-3.

The Devils didn't hold the lead for very long, as the Seawolves jumped on Sauer for two in the fourth. Stephen Marino walked to lead off and came around to third on a double by Michael Tansey. Sauer appeared to work out of trouble, as he got Fier to foul out and struck out Justin Echevarria for the first two outs. But, Brian Witkowski gave Stony Brook back the lead with a two-out single to center that scored two and made it 5-4 Seawolves.

The Devils would take back the lead in the bottom of the fourth and it was all started with a one-out walk to Jason Kipnis. Kipnis then stole second and came in to score on an RBI single by Brett Wallace, who took second on the throw to the plate. Wallace got a good jump and stole third base and scored on a single to right by Ike Davis.

ASU added three big insurance runs in the bottom of the fifth. Greg Bordes walked to lead off the fifth and advanced to second on a balk. Ryan Sontag would plate Bordes with a double to right and Sontag scored on a RBI single by Kipnis to make it 8-5 ASU. Brett Wallace picked up his third hit of the day with an infield single and Petey Paramore walked to load the bases. Pinch hitter Marcel Champagnie drew a walk to force in a run and made it 9-5.

Stony Brook began to chip away at the lead with a run in the sixth against Tommy Rafferty. Stephen Marino started things with a single up the middle and after Rafferty struck out Tansey, Fier dropped down a sacrifice bunt sending Marino to second. Justin Echevarria then sent a two-out double to left that scored Marino and made it 9-6 Devils.

Rafferty and the ASU defense made things interesting in the ninth, as Stony Brook put the tying run on base. Keith Fier reached on an infield single and Justin Echevarria reached on a fielding error by Greg Bordes. Witkowski made it 9-7 with a single up the middle that scored Fier and the Seawolves were threatening to tie the game late. Rafferty got a huge out by picking Echevarria off of second base and then got Chad Marshall to line into a double play to end the ball game.

Tommy Rafferty pitched five innings of relief to pick up the victory, his 12th of the season all out of the bullpen. His twelve wins in relief ties a school record set by Dave Alexander in 1989. Matt Newman allowed two runs in two innings, in just his third start of the season. Stephen Sauer also threw two innings and allowed two runs.

Brett Wallace, fresh off of winning another Pac-10 Triple Crown, went 4-5 with a homer and three RBIs to lead the way offensively for ASU. Ike Davis also had multiple hits going 2-4 and driving in a run. Petey Paramore reached in all of his five plate appearances walking four times and singling in his other at bat. Sontag, Champagnie, Jones and Kipnis also drove in a run in the victory.

Third-seeded Oklahoma upset second-seeded Vanderbilt 8-5 in the opening game of the Tempe Regional, so the Devils will next take on the Sooners tomorrow night at 7PM. Ace Mike Leake (9-2, 3.18 ERA) is expected to get the ball for ASU and will be opposed by Oklahoma's Ryan Duke (7-4, 3.60 ERA). Vanderbilt and Stony Brook will play in an elimination game tomorrow afternoon at 2PM at Packard Stadium.

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